Chad Carns, Digital Media Guru and Founder of Carnsmedia shares real world digital tips to help you take back control of your work day.

Let’s face it, a day at the office can spiral out of control quickly. You walk in with three minor action items to do for the day but it descends into Dante’s Inferno before 9:15 am.

Servers are down, clients are threatening to leave and your top art director just resigned to follow his passion for chicken farming in Westchester.

You rally the team together, fix the servers, save the clients and wish your AD happy trails. Awesome! But 9 pm rolls around and you haven’t even touched the original three action items. Where did the day go?

It happens. Actually, it happens often. But if you prioritize the day, stay goal-focused, organize your thoughts on a cloud-based workflow, and follow these to manage your work day, you should be able to quickly rebound for the next day.

1. Do it Tomorrow.

Prioritize your to-do list with a “Today” and “Tomorrow” folder.

A wise man once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today!” That might work in some worlds but not in my world. At least 57 items need my attention daily but many can actually wait until tomorrow.

Create two separate folders for your daily tasks. Label one folder “Today” and another “Tomorrow.”

“Today” Tasks

Items that directly affect cash flow today such as daily emails or promotions, direct client requests, today’s grand opening, high visibility tasks or anything that needs to release today go in this folder.

By identifying critical items that require your immediate attention today, you will feel less overwhelmed each day and able to quickly adjust your tasks when unexpected events pop up.

“Tomorrow” Tasks

So what goes in the “Tomorrow” tab? Will you get fired or lose a client if this task is not completed today? No. Great! It’s going in the “Tomorrow” folder.

2. Who moved my Short-term Goal?

Create a “Goals” folder as a task item next to your daily list of tasks.

Setting goals is nothing new. It’s as common as forgetting them.

Remember the sense of accomplishment you felt after that epic brainstorming session? You strategically outlined your short and long-term goals for the year. But wait. Hold back on those shots of Patron. You didn’t accomplish anything yet. Not until you actually reach those goals. And the secret of reaching goals is to be reminded of that goal every day.

Drop your goals in the “Goals” folder right next to today’s action items on your to-do list. A constant reminder of your short and long-term goals sitting right next to your daily tasks will help you realize the critical tasks for the day. Only work on tasks that directly relate to your goals.

3. Don’t call it a goal. Give it a date.

Change the title of your goals to the projected completion date.

Now that your goals live right next to your daily tasks on your to-do list, change the name “Goals” to the date you want to complete that goal. Now instead of seeing “Goals” every day, you are also constantly reminded of the goals’ completion date. If you’re a month away from the completion date, you might need to adjust your daily tasks so you can reach your goal on time.

4. Humility.

Add one word to your calendar that identifies something that you need to work on each day.

Productivity only works if we identify obstacles that could get in the way of achieving your goals. This could be a personal growth item or potential roadblocks outside of your control. It may seem redundant and a waste of space to add one word that pops up 365 days a year on an already busy daily calendar but this one item just might be the most important appointment of the day.

5. Break the Pencil.

Where did your notes from that meeting go? It’s on the cloud!

The shortest pencil lasts longer than the longest memory until you lose your notepad. Then the pencil is essentially worthless. Why set yourself up for failure?

Use a cloud-based app on a digital device or laptop to type in all of your notes. Sync all of your devices to the same cloud and ask your team to do the same. Now you are ready to capture your most creative thoughts anywhere with a cellular single. They will be archived, easily searchable and waiting for you … just about when you finish that “5 Digital Tips” article.